Sunday, April 01, 2007

Crucify Him!

Every time I hear the narrative of the Passion of Jesus, I imagine the crowd of onlookers as being composed of the very people Jesus ministered to and healed.

I imagine the man born blind; he is lying in his testimony to the Sanhedrin. "He said he would tear down the Temple and rebuild it in three days!"

I imagine the Roman Centurion whose servant Jesus healed; he blindfolds Jesus and punches him in the stomach, then mocks, "Prophesy! Who was it who struck you?"

I imagine the single grateful leper; he is demanding of Pilate: "Barrabas! Release Barrabas!"

I imagine the men and women who lined the entrance to Jerusalem only a few days earlier, hailing the King of the Jews and lining his path with palm branches; now they spit on his crucified flesh and laugh: "Hail, King of the Jews!"

I imagine Lazarus, Zacchaeus (in a tree, of course), and Jairus. I imagine the man who had been possessed by a demon. I imagine the woman caught in adultery and released from her death sentence. I imagine the man lowered through the roof. I imagine the woman cured of her hemorrhaging. I imagine the rich young man. They are all calling out "Crucify him!"

I imagine Simon Peter uttering a profound and complete denial of his relationship with Jesus, three times.

I imagine rooster crowing, veil tearing, rocks breaking, earth quaking... the very fabric of the universe rejects this impossibility of God having just died.

I see myself at the foot of the cross, knowing that all that cruelty by all those people whom he had touched - I did these things to him myself.

For we must acknowledge, each of us, our own part in the condemnation and death of our Lord. We've all heard the clich├ęd phrase that he took our sins upon himself. But what does such a statement mean? It means that he became the object of any scorn or hate in our lives; he became the victim of any crime; he became the recipient of any fraud; he became the believer of any lie. "For anything you do to the least of these, you do to me," warns Jesus.

I know that I have betrayed him many times since he first touched my life; yet he does not stop loving me.

But also when I hear the Passion narrative, and I hear the crowd cry out, "Crucify him!" I must cry it with them, with a pleading in my voice: for it is only through his crucifixion that he saves me. Only when we beg, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" can we know redemption.

So yes, Pilate, please - crucify him. For my own good; for the good of all humanity. Crucify him, and let him save us from ourselves.

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